as if afraid to sanction such exaggeration, but
could stand it in her whom he liked, and smiled
very charmingly. He must have confided in her
on one of those long expeditions when people
got separated and walked back alone. He
was educating his little sister, Mrs. Ramsay had
told her. It was immensely to his credit. Her
own idea of him was grotesque, Lily knew well,
stirring the plantains with her brush. Half one's
notions of other people were, after all, grotesque.
They served private purposes of one's own. He
did for her instead of a whipping-boy. She found
herself flagellating his lean flanks when she was
out of temper. If she wanted to be serious about
him she had to help herself to Mrs. Ramsay's
sayings, to look at him through her eyes.
She raised a little mountain for the ants to
climb over. She reduced them to a frenzy of
indecision by this interference in their cosmogony.
Some ran this way, others that.
One wanted fifty pairs of eyes to see with, she
reflected. Fifty pairs of eyes were not enough to
get round that one woman with, she thought.
Among them, must be one that was stone blind
to her beauty. One wanted most some secret
sense, fine as air, with which to steal through
keyholes and surround her where she sat knitting,
talking, sitting silent in the window alone; which